This is what ...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

... a gang of clueless idiots looks like.

When you oversleep and your baby wakes up early, it's a quick post or nothing at all...

Yesterday, I was out with the baby and, shortly after noticing a motorcycle cop stationed on the corner of the street I was waiting to cross, I heard a din behind me. This is what I turned around to see.

The din turned out to be the highly persuasive beating of drums and chanting of, "This is what democracy looks like!" by something on the order of a hundred unkempt punks.

If these people had an ounce of sense, they would realize the supreme irony of their chant: While, yes, the preemption of intellectual debate exhibited by shouting and the show of intimidation by large numbers do visually give us a sample of what unlimited mob rule might "look" like, the fact that they were stamping and bellowing to their hearts' content with impunity was really what rule of law looks like. Mobs do not respect freedom of speech; societies with proper governments, or those that at least protect freedom of speech, do.

The demonstration reminds me of a few choice Ayn Rand quotes, but two seem particularly apt, given the fixation on the forcible redistribution of wealth from one percent of the population to the rest. Both pertain to the fact that wealth must be produced through rational, self-interested effort, rather than miraculously existing as some fixed "pie" that nobody owns.

First, stealing from the wealthiest is worse than futile:
In view of what they hear from the experts, the people cannot be blamed for their ignorance and their helpless confusion. If an average housewife struggles with her incomprehensibly shrinking budget and sees a tycoon in a resplendent limousine, she might well think that just one of his diamond cuff links would solve all her problems. She has no way of knowing that if all the personal luxuries of all the tycoons were expropriated, it would not feed her family -- and millions of other, similar families -- for one week; and that the entire country would starve on the first morning of the week to follow . . . . How would she know it, if all the voices she hears are telling her that we must soak the rich? [from "The Inverted Moral Priorities," which appeared in The Ayn Rand Letter]
Second, regarding "the rich," they are not only (surprise!) human beings, but our lives depend on them, as John Galt notes in Atlas Shrugged:
When you live in a rational society, where men are free to trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive minds who exist in the world around you.

When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into the making of that product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men how to think and whom you spend your time denouncing.

The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time. If you worked as a blacksmith in the mystics' Middle Ages, the whole of your earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days and days of effort. How many tons of rail do you produce per day if you work for Hank Rearden? Would you dare to claim that the size of your pay check was created solely by your physical labor and that those rails were the product of your muscles? The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden.
How many of these self-righteous, cowardly wanabe thieves own iPhones? Or have flown on jet planes? Or have had their lives saved by modern medicine? None of this would have been possible to the richest emperor before the Industrial Revolution, and yet they ignore all of this and whine about the fact that some people have more than others, without even stopping to think about whether they might deserve it, whether they may have a right to it.

I do not, of course, expect to penetrate the thick skull of anyone who would participate in this farce, but I do wish to underscore why it is vital not to give in to them one inch, morally or politically, and to briefly point out a thinker, Ayn Rand, whose ideas would greatly reduce the occurrence of such follies were her ideas better known throughout our culture.

-- CAV

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